Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Coachella Valley Preserve ~ 1000 Palm Canyon ~ California

The dictionary definition of oasis as “fertile or green spot in the desert, made so by the presence of water”.  This doesn’t come close to what it is really like for our visit today!  The Mojave desert offers a few oases in the Coachella Valley and we have visited a couple of them but this one several times. We think they are a very special place to share so come along with us to visit some of the Coachella Valley Preserve.
The tall trees of the oasis at the Visitor Center
Coachella Valley Preserve, Palm Springs, CA
The Coachella Valley Preserve covers some 13,000 acres in the Thousand Palms Canyon and it was dedicated in 1986. We first stop at the Palm Cabin, the visitor center which is an old log cabin and has several interesting displays to view, we drop off a donation and pick up a map with the intention of hiking more trails one day. They also have a washroom at this location.
We have a sandy path to follow to the oasis.
The oasis is seen in the distance
We enjoy the easy access to this oasis and parking as well as the free visit, everyone likes a deal like that. There are a few trails to choose from but we head to McCallum Grove.  Always take your own drinking water and good walking shoes are best.  They have picnic tables near the Visitor Center if you’re inclined to stay awhile to enjoy the oasis.
We are able to cross over the water on the wooden walks
Wooden walkway crosses the water at the oasis
Changes to protect the natural habitat have happened over the past years that we have visited the oasis which includes some of the wooden walkways that go over the boggy sections when you leave the Visitor Center.  Cattail and salt grass are found in the streams and seeps like this one.

The tall trees of the oasis
Fan Palm trees in the oasis
Desert Fan Palm trees are common for the oases in this desert and here is where you will find one of the largest groves of Date Fan Palms in the state.  They will grow to 15 metres (50’) tall and as the old leaves drop over the trunk, they appear to be a skirt, great homes for little critters. In late summer the palm fruits are eaten by birds and mammals such as the coyote, fox and woodrats in the area.
The fringe-toed lizard scurries across the sand
The fringe-toed lizard of the Coachella Valley Preserve
The Coachella Valley Preserve is home to many rare plants and animals that would be found nowhere else on earth.  Fortunately, some like the fringe-toed lizard, a little guy who grows to 5-7” long, are being protected in this area.  There are a total of 108 animal species that inhabit the preserve.

The smoke tree branches reach out
The  Smoke Tree of the Mojave
The Smoke tree is so named because it looks like a puff of smoke from a distance.  It will grow as tall as 6 metres (18’) and is found in the Mojave and Sonoran desert.  This one covers a large area as it rambles over the sand.  Another native plant is the Honey Mesquite which grows even larger. Cattle spinach is also found in the desert and is a high value food source for cattle and native browsers.
We cross the desert to get to the McCallum Pond at the Grove
The McCallum Grove in Coachella Valley Preserve
We follow McCallum Trail, the sandy trail to McCallum Pond on a beautiful sunny day to see this special place once again. The area is kept quite natural with fallen fronds laying about but they also do a lot of work to keep it clean and safe to visit with the main objective, undoubtedly, to protect the natural habitat. 
This cluster of trees offers shade in McCallum Grove
Huge fan palms in the oasis
The size of the trees is so deceiving from the distance.  Then you get in among them and find them to be monstrous; you can see how big they are compared to our young grandson.  This shaded area is cleared with benches for resting and just enjoying the wonder around us but this visit was a quick stop here as our grandson was having fun and wanted to see more.

the scene is peaceful as we enjoy the pond
McCallum Pond in Coachella Valley Preserve
The Mission Creek branch of the San Andreas Fault runs nearby and is the source for the water we see when we cross the Fault line to the McCallum Pond.  The Fault creates an underground dam that forces water to surface as springs, and that is what you will see here at the oasis.  I wasn’t sure what the San Andreas Fault would look like on our first visit but we do not see a big crack in the ground here, we see water.

This coot is the only one we see on our visit today
The coot enjoys the quiet of the pond 
There are also some benches here that one can rest on while enjoying the peaceful pond.  We can usually spot a bird or duck enjoying the water, too.  The pond has several nooks and crannies to see with a different view of the pond from all of them.
the pond shows reflections of the towering trees
McCallum Pond at McCallum Grove
No matter the age, most would be able to walk into the McCallum Pond. I would not recommend anything with wheels like strollers as the sand would be difficult. This hike is not a challenging one other than the distance being about 3 km (2 mi) roundtrip. We have taken many of our family and friends in, young and older. We met an 85 yr old hiker with some of her senior friends on our last visit so if you’re in the area, go and enjoy the oases at the Coachella Valley Preserve, click here to learn more.

1 comment:

  1. Really great pictures. I have never seen trees like that before. I hope you are enjoying the balmy weather.



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